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Gave RHP Jack McDowell his unconditional release; purchased the contract
of LHP Lou Pote from Edmonton. [8/9]

Placed 1B/OF Darin Erstad on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 8/11 (strained
knee ligament); recalled INF Andy Sheets from Edmonton. [8/13]

After going 0-4 in four starts, it looks like Black Jack has forgotten
how to win after all this time–not that pitching for a team with a lousy
offense didn’t do anything to jog his memory. In his absence, the Angels
can pick between Mike Fyhrie and Pote for the fifth spot in the rotation.
Pote’s been pretty good for the Trappers this year, logging a 4.50 ERA.
He punched out 118 batters in 150 innings pitched, while allowing 171
hits (19 homeruns) and 41 walks. Like Fyhrie, he’s a minor-league vet who
can do more to help a team than a broken-down McDowell. Losing Erstad
mercifully puts his offensive woes to an end for the time being, while
giving the Angels the opportunity to play Todd Greene more regularly. On
the other hand, Sheets’ return can only get in the way of playing Trent
Durrington; as long as they have Durrington up, he should be getting four
or five starts a week, because there’s nothing Sheets or Jeff Huson could
do to suddenly convince anyone they’re somebody else.


Optioned RHP Erik Sabel to Tucson; activated RHP Darren Holmes from the
15-day DL. [8/11]

And I was just getting to warm up to Sabel’s nifty forkball. With Matt
Mantei bruised and battered from taking a liner off of his foot, getting
Holmes back is good news, assuming his back woes are more than just
behind him. With Gregg Olson nabbing a couple of saves so far, and armed
with Greg Swindell and Bobby Chouinard doing good work in middle relief,
the D-backs’ pen has gone from a problem to a pretty good outfit, not
that that’s going to bring Brad Penny back.


Optioned C Pascual Matos to Richmond; purchased the contract of 3B Howard
from Richmond; transferred C Javy Lopez from the 15- to the 60-day
DL. [8/11]

Battle stumbles into a weeks’ worth of major league service time, thanks
to the unfortunate decision to demote Randall Simon. Battle was having a
nice season at Richmond (.293/.338/.523, with 21 homeruns), but he’s 27
and has little defensive value. On a team with a great top-to-bottom
lineup, you could afford to carry Battle, but with as many light-hitting
regulars as the Braves boast, he’ll be back in Richmond soon enough.


Recalled RHP Kip Wells from Birmingham (Double-A); optioned INF Liu
to Birmingham;
after the first game of Friday’s double-header, optioned Wells back to
Birmingham; activated OF Darrin Jackson from the DL. [8/13]

Although Wells again flashed three good pitches (curve, slider, and
fastball) and notched his second win in as many starts, and despite
threats that the Sox may be putting him in to the rotation to stay
sometime soon, they sent him back down for now. The dilemma for the Sox
is whether they can finally get Jaime Navarro into a Rangers uniform
(although with Esteban Loaiza pitching well, their sense of need is
probably gone). At this point, Navarro’s contract is a sunk cost, and
he’s only impeding the team’s improvement from here on out. Taking the
hit to team payroll may not be much fun next year, but the added wins and
playing time to invest in someone useful should make it much easier to
take. The Sox are reluctant to give up on James Baldwin or John Snyder
just yet, which means only one spot in the rotation should be fair game
from here on out.

The decision to bring up Rodriguez in the first place
was strange; as disappointing as Mike Caruso has been, Rodriguez is a
second baseman who can’t really play short, and it isn’t as if he could
spot Greg Norton at third either. Ray Durham doesn’t need to come out
very often, so while Jerry Manuel wants another infielder on the bench,
long-term the Sox are stuck with the dilemmas of whether or not Paul
Konerko should take up third base again, or where Carlos Lee’s going to
end up playing. Because Mario Valdez and Brian Simmons, and eventually
Aaron Rowand, are going to force their way into the first-base and
left-field pictures, the Sox have some tough choices to make as far as
who’s going to be important to the team in the future.


Placed RHP Jaret Wright on the 15-day DL (upper back, shoulder, coming
back too soon); activated LHP Tom Martin from the DL; designated LHP
Chris Haney and RHP Jeff Tam for assignment; purchased the contract of
RHP David Riske from Buffalo. [8/9]

Activated CF Kenny Lofton from the DL; optioned 3B Russell Branyan to
Buffalo; outrighted LHP Chris Haney to Buffalo; signed INF Jeff Manto to
a minor-league contract. [8/13]

There’s something really wrong in Cleveland, and my bet is that it’s
pitching coach Phil Regan. For the second time this year, an Indians
starter pitched without telling anyone about an aching shoulder, and for
the second time, it put that starter on the DL (Gooden did it before
Wright did). You can blame the players for being irresponsible, but when
you and I know that Wright and Gooden have physical problems but Regan
claims he didn’t, something seems amiss.

That puts the Indians in the
situation to take a gamble, one that I don’t begrudge them: Steve
Karsay’s going into the rotation. Having failed to acquire a top starter
so far, the Tribe needs to get quality innings at the front end of a game
from somebody. On this team, Karsay’s the best bet they have. Despite his
previous trip to the DL, he hasn’t hurt his arm this year, and while we
all know Mike Hargrove doesn’t fret over pitch counts with Bartolo Colon,
he’s making the right noises about being careful with Karsay. If Karsay
can put in nine starts or so without hurting his arm, he could be the #2
starter in the playoffs behind Colon, which might be what they need to
have a fighting chance against the Yankees. Is it desperate? Sure. Is
Karsay a great bet to hurt himself? Definitely, but Karsay’s health
record is such that he could blow out his elbow tomorrow picking up a
suitcase. If the Tribe wants to take their best shot at winning the World
Series this year without trading for a top-notch starter, they’re going
to have to take a risk like this.

As for the other moves, Branyan didn’t
have Hargrove’s confidence, so don’t be surprised when Jeff Manto comes
up and nabs Jolbert Cabrera’s roster spot in a few days. Calling up Riske
to take Karsay’s place in the pen is no loss. Riske has great movement on
his fastball, and has been inspired this year between Akron and Buffalo:
a 1.36 ERA, 54 strikeouts in 46.1 IP, with only 19 hits (one homerun) and
18 walks allowed. That’s nineteen hits, and I don’t care if you’re only
being used as a closer and have only one pitch, that’s Zimmerman
territory as far as dominating the opposition.


Traded CF Brian McRae to the Blue Jays for a PTBNL; recalled OF Edgard
from Colorado Springs. [8/9]

Who’da thunk the Rockies would engage in an out-and-out salary dump?
McRae wasn’t going to do them any good anyways, and they will get to
spend the time taking a few looks at Clemente and Jeff Barry.
Unfortunately, Clemente still wasn’t hitting especially well at Colorado
Springs (.304/.355/.575 in the thin air), and still doesn’t understand
what it means when the umpire calls something other than a strike. The
danger is that the Rox will get too excited about either Clemente or
Barry, and write them in for next year. Seeing as how they haven’t even
really noticed how bad Dante Bichette has been this year, I wouldn’t be
too optimistic.


Placed OF Richard Hidalgo on the 15-day DL (inflamed knee); recalled LF
Lance Berkman from New Orleans. [8/13]

Rats, more reasons to use the organization’s outstanding depth. Resting
up Hidalgo’s knee, not to mention bringing his terrible slump at the
plate to an end, are both good ideas, while creating playing time for
Berkman in left should help the offense. If Berkman shines over the next
couple of weeks, the Astros can happily drop Derek Bell to his platoon
mate once Moises Alou is back and up to full strength.


Activated RHPs Terry Mathews and Jeff Montgomery from the DL; optioned
RHPs Brian Barber and Ken Ray to Omaha. [8/9]

Traded LHP Jeremy Jackson to the Mets for RHP Derek Wallace. [8/13]

On the Royals, this is improvement, because they get to replace guys with
ERAs of 9.64 and 8.74 with guys with ERAs of 4.38 and 7.45. Yippee!
Mathews was actually a stalwart in middle relief earlier this season, so
his return will at least staunch the bleeding in the sixth and seventh
innings. Whether Montgomery and Scott Service can take things from there,
or just make Tony Muser’s hair fall out or his ulcers bleed, well, that’s
a whole different kettle of fish. Trading for Wallace is an interesting
little move; Jackson is years away from being a prospect (if ever),
although Wallace apparently doesn’t have the command of his stuff that he
used to have, this is a good low-risk investment. Heck, we’re not talking
Don Wengert here.


Optioned LHP Jeff Kubenka to Albuquerque; recalled RHP Mike Judd from
Albuquerque. [8/11]

Activated 2B Eric Young off of the DL; optioned RHP Matt Herges to
Albuquerque. [8/13]

Judd had what’s called a decent start these days, giving up four runs in
less than seven innings against the light-scoring Expos, so he gets to be
the fifth starter for another start or two. He was not pitching well in
Albuquerque, even if you take note of the PCL bandbox effect: a 6.67 ERA,
not to mention 90 runs allowed in 110.2 IP, with 132 hits (22 homeruns),
but a nice ratio of 122 strikeouts to 47 walks. You might argue he was
playing down to the level of his team, because the Dukes are a bad
offensive team (10th out of 16 in the PCL), and they aren’t a good
defensive squad. Basically, given that the alternatives are Carlos Perez
or Jamie Arnold, it’s just as well that they give the spot to Judd to
give them some experience with him before camp next year.

Eric Young’s
return is good news. As much as he’s being flogged for what he isn’t, he
is a step up from Craig Counsell or Jose Vizcaino.


Fired manager Phil Garner; named hitting coach Jim Lefebvre interim
manager; announced the resignation of GM Sal Bando, while shuttling back
to a role as special assistant to club president Wendy Selig-Prieb. [8/12]

Signed RHP Jason Bere to a minor-league contract. [8/13]

Bando recommending his own axing (as well as that of Garner) is an
uncommon thing in this day and age. Like the twin whackings of Harry
Dalton and Tom Trebelhorn after 1991, it’s just as well that the Brewers
take their time to start over. The question is who will they choose to
bring in. In Bando’s absence, Chicken Stanley’s been given the
responsibilities of the GM role, and while years of mediocrity might
demand radical solutions, I won’t be surprised if Stanley or Cecil Cooper
gets to run the show this winter. As for a new manager, like the White
Sox’ decision to hire Jerry Manuel (what with Jerry Reinsdorf chairing
the committee on minority hiring for MLB), I won’t be surprised to see
the Brewers give minorities serious consideration for the job. There
would be something perversely fit if Don Baylor got the job, in that
Baylor bitched the loudest about Phil Garner’s hiring in the first place,
despite his having done almost nothing to earn consideration for a
managerial job himself at the time. More likely is that the Brewers first
try to coax Paul Molitor into some sort of role, while giving Davey Lopes
or Chris Chambliss a well-earned opportunity on the field.


Activated LHP Mark Redman from the DL, and optioned him to Salt Lake.

This begs the question of why they called him up in the first place, if
they just wanted to keep Benj Sampson or Dan Perkins in the fifth spot.
Hopefully, Redman will only be down for a brief tune-up before reclaiming
the last spot in the rotation. The alternative is that the Twins don’t
know what they’re doing.


Placed SS Orlando Cabrera on the 15-day DL (sprained ankle); purchased
the contract of INF Geoff Blum from Ottawa. [8/9]

Activated RHP Miguel Batista from the DL; optioned RHP J.D. Smart to
Ottawa. [8/10]

Optioned RHP Guillermo Mota to Ottawa; recalled, and after the first game
of Friday’s double-header, returned, RHP Mike Johnson from and to Ottawa;
purchased the contract of RHP Scott Strickland from Ottawa. [8/13]

Cabrera’s out for close to a month after finally heating up at the plate in the
previous week. In his stead is one of my greatest sources of embarassment
from last year’s book, Geoff Blum. Flash back to mid-December, when I
made the decision to drop Blum from BP 1999. Now I feel really lousy
about that decision (worse than I do about cutting Tim Spehr, for
example, because we should all already know as much as we need to know
about Tim Spehr), because he’s somebody you should have gotten to know
about before now. In an organization in love with "teaching"
situational hitting, Blum’s a switch-hitting middle infielder who settles
for getting on base and pasting an occassional extra-base hit. At Ottawa
this year, he was hitting .265/.350/.437, with ten homeruns. At 26, he
won’t ever be a star, but he’s close to ideal as far as utilitymen go:
some pop, a switch-hitter, a solid bunter, able to contribute by drawing
a walk, and even swipe a base now and again. Because he has use, he may
end up getting most of the playing time over Mike Mordecai at short, and
by then, he’ll have earned Mordecai’s job in 2000.

The rest of the roster
shuffling is based on the Friday-Sunday double-headers against the
Rockies. It should tell you everything you need to know about Batista’s
future role with the club that despite five games in three days, he won’t
get a start.


Placed RHP Rick Reed on the 15-day DL (strained ligament – hand);
recalled RHP Dan Murray from Norfolk. [8/9]

Claimed RHP Jeff Tam off of waivers from the Indians; optioned RHP Dan
to Norfolk. [8/11]

Traded RHP Derek Wallace to the Royals for LHP Jeremy Jackson. [8/13]

Losing Reed isn’t good news for the Mets, since it keeps Masato Yoshii in
the rotation. That means more games where the Mets’ pen may not come in soon
enough to give the offense the time to catch up.

Fortunately, claiming
Tam is a nice enough move to compensate. A sturdy soft-tosser, between
Tam and Pat Mahomes, the Mets have two decent middle men to bring in
early and get the game to the sixth inning and the primo foursome of
setup men to Armando Benitez: righties Billy Taylor and Turk Wendell, and
lefties Dennis Cook and Chuck McElroy. I’ve had my doubts about some
seven-man bullpens, but Valentine seems to have a handle on how to run
this one. Fortunately or not, it seems a prime ingredient is a couple of
starters (like Yoshii or Orel Hershiser) who get tired by the fifth


Activated RHP Jeff Nelson from the DL, optioned RHP Dan Naulty to
Columbus. [8/11]

Nelson has struggled in his outings since coming off of the DL, so he may
not have healed up entirely. Naulty’s recent struggles only clinched that
he’s not going to make the playoff roster if Nelson can do any better
than roll the ball to home plate.


Placed RHP Curt Schilling on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 8/8 (shoulder
inflammation); recalled LHP Anthony Shumaker from Scranton Wilkes-Barre.

Looks like the Phillies have run out of excuses, and Schilling’s damaged
goods. Worst case scenario, at least he hasn’t had a career like Mario
Soto’s, where he got to be the ace of a team that never mattered. Best
case, he comes back before Labor Day and the Phillies get to play spoiler
in September. Don’t tell me, you weren’t one of the people who harbored
greater ambitions for this team than that?


Activated 2B/SS Mike Benjamin from the DL; designated 3B/OF Freddy Garcia
for assignment; activated OF Turner Ward from the DL, and unconditionally
released him. [8/11]

Garcia probably won’t attract any more attention on the waiver wire than
George Arias did, even if the Cubs could use either of them. Turner Ward
isn’t especially different from the same-named guy that they gave a
two-year contract to, so while it’s interesting that they’ve decided to
eat the last eight weeks’ worth of paychecks, we’re still talking about
the team that gave him that contract, not to mention to Meares multi-year


Placed 2B Quilvio Veras on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 8/8 (strained
quadriceps); purchased contract of C Wiklenman Gonzalez from Las Vegas.

The nicest thing about the bad news of losing Veras is that it gives the
team another way to keep Damian Jackson playing. With Chris Gomez’
return, that was becoming a problem. Of course, signing Carlos Baerga at
the tail end of his four-year run of worthlessness was an added

Now that Phil Nevin’s getting a full-time trial as the
team’s third baseman of the future, and since the trades of both Jim
Leyritz and Greg Myers, the Pads needed to add someone else to back up
Ben Davis, and baseball’s first Wiklenman is the answer. Gonzalez has
been around the organization for years after starting out with the
Brewers, even getting passed up by Davis two years ago, but he’s still
only 25, and broke through this year at Mobile before getting even hotter
at Las Vegas. He isn’t a bad catcher either, so he won’t be a bad caddy
for Davis. Maybe he can ask Bochy how it felt backing up Terry Kennedy
for years.


Recalled C Doug Mirabelli from Fresno; optioned 3B Edwards Guzman to
Fresno. [8/10]

This is sort of a strange little move, in that the Mayne/Servais platoon
has been productive by it’s own lights. Mayne’s hit .311/.380/.430, while
Servais has hit .272/.331/.399. Of course, seeing what the D-Rays turned
Joe Oliver into, maybe Brian Sabean thinks he can turn Servais around for
a baseball player too. Mirabelli clearly will be an improvement, offering
more power and moving Mayne into a handy caddy role, but the Giants need
more than this to help their offense or their chances of passing the


Activated 2B Miguel Cairo from the DL; optioned RHP Mickey Callaway to
Durham. [8/11]

Cairo’s return isn’t going to help the D-Rays’ defense, since it pushed
Tony Graffanino to shortstop. Life would just be easier if Wade Boggs
would call it quits.

As for Callaway’s demotion, his ERA is higher than Wade Boggs’–you
could say he earned it.


Recalled RHP Ryan Glynn from Oklahoma; optioned LHP Doug Davis to
Oklahoma. [8/10]

Glynn’s only back because of Friday’s double-header, since Esteban Loaiza
should have his teeth sunk into the fourth or fifth spot from here on
out. On the other hand, if John Burkett scuffles…


Placed INF Craig Grebeck on the 15-day DL (foot); recalled SS Chris
from Syracuse. [8/9]

Acquired CF Brian McRae from the Rockies for a PTBNL. [8/9]

Placed 1B David Segui on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 8/7 (fractured
bone – hand). [8/10]

Had to cope with CF Curtis Goodwin‘s decision to disappear/retire;
recalled RHP Peter Munro and 3B Casey Blake from Syracuse; placed 3B
Willis Otanez on the 15-day DL (strained forearm). [8/12]

Ugh, what a mess. As an A’s fan, I can thank my lucky stars that the Jays
don’t seem to understand, as Joe Sheehan put it, that the additive
property doesn’t work in baseball: three crummy centerfielders doesn’t
add up to one adequate one. Heck, even Curtis Goodwin understands that,
and nobly chose discretion over the valor of sitting behind both Brian
McRae and the execrable Jacob Brumfield.

That isn’t to say all’s lost.
Best-case scenarios for the Blue Jays with McRae in the fold and Segui
down are that Willie Greene finally gets to DH for a couple of weeks at a
time, while you hope that McRae was pulling a Tony Fernandez-style
"get me out of New York" tank job. Worst case is that Brumfield
DHs, McRae continues to suck, and the Jays wonder why they never got
better despite being so active.

Thank you for reading

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